Phone, email, live chat, and social media: these are now stalwart contact center channels.
Yet, despite all the innovation that has swept across the customer experience space, how service teams manage these channels has changed very little in the past decade.
Indeed, that is perhaps the most striking takeaway from a new survey of 100+ UK service operations by ContactBabel – the contact center research firm.
It found that 55 percent of contact centers still work from multichannel environments, where conversation history and context change each time the customer switches channels.
That’s why the customer frustration: “I keep having to repeat myself!”, remains so rife.
Thankfully, 14 percent have upgraded to a multimodel environment, where agents can switch between channels as part of the same interaction.
So, for instance, an agent may send an SMS or email to the customer while engaging with them over the voice channel. That’s a positive step in the right direction.
Yet, omnichannel is the golden goose, which only 31 percent of contact centers have nailed down – as evident in the chart below.
When contact centers establish such an environment, customers can use more than one channel over numerous conversations while maintaining the history and context of the original query.
Indeed, all the context follows them as they move between voice and digital channels.
That is ideal for the modern customer who doesn’t always default to the phone. Instead, they switch channels as they see fit, choosing based on their intent, experiences, and personality.
In this reality, omnichannel is not only best practice but a necessary step to reducing customer effort, satisfaction, and often loyalty.
Yet, it’s not easy to achieve – as that small 31 percent of contact centers may attest to.
Where the Omnichannel Dream Turns Into a Nightmare
Of course, budget is a persistent spanner in the omnichannel works for many organizations. Yet, survey participants spotlighted two even more significant stumbling blocks:
- The technology platform does not support a single view of the customer.
- Business processes are siloed and separate.
These are particularly bothersome as establishing a single integrated platform capable of carrying context across channels is the foundation of omnichannel.
As such, businesses must often rethink their entire environment, move away from channel-focused point solutions, and enable an extendable service architecture.
Also, the business must pull together operational, product, and experience data into a “single source of truth” that customers and agents can leverage across any channel.
Yet, there are several additional considerations, as the study suggests:
“A key aim of omnichannel is to provide a consistency of customer experience, and this requires access not only to the same master dataset but also the same knowledge bases, and business logic must be applied equally.”
Add to that the requirement for real-time data flows and synchronous updates across channels and databases, and achieving an omnichannel contact center appears to be an immense task. Yet, not an impossible one.
The Route Out of Omnichannel Trauma
There are many steps to establishing an omnichannel contact center. It doesn’t happen overnight.
The ContactBabel report dives deeper into these, yet the following five actions offer an excellent starting point for contact centers before they consider evaluating various tech providers.
Step 1 – Start with Customer Research
Honing in on the critical issues within the current environment helps prove the omnichannel concept to the CTO and uncover customer perspectives to build into the new contact center design.
Dive deep into which business processes are currently working, which are failing, and – perhaps most crucially – which are most valued by customers.
A voice of the customer (VoC) program that leverages analytics – alongside more conventional surveys – will help unlock many valuable, easy-to-miss insights.
Step 2 – Develop an Omnichannel Vision
Contact centers must stay focused on the end goal of omnichannel – understanding what it looks like and using that to drive their vision.
Diving deeper, the ContactBabel report notes:
“While the vision and strategy should be distinct and all-encompassing, the implementation can be done in phases that immediately impact upon the customer experience and prove ROI.”
Step 3 – Set Measurable Objectives
As the well-respected management consultant Peter Druker once said: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
With that in mind, contact centers must track CX-focused metrics that directly relate to the desired outcome of omnichannel. Customer effort, satisfaction, and first contact resolution scores are all excellent examples.
These will also help service leaders demonstrate ROI wherever possible to reassure stakeholders.
Finally, as the omnichannel environment takes shape, consider how to reward behaviors and outcomes that support these metrics – from agents and supervisors.
Step 4 – Engage the Broader Business
As customers switch between channels, the nature of the conversation may change – be it from marketing to service, service to sales, and so on.
Yet, in an omnichannel environment, the context from all these conversations follows the customer, so the project must expand beyond the confines of customer service.
As such, ContactBabel suggests appointing a project champion at a senior level with the authority and vision to influence and create change.
Of course, that involves tech. But such change may be cultural too, so having this spearhead becomes even more significant.
Step 5 – Map Out Your Customer Journeys
“Identify as many of the customer journeys as possible (and their business owners),” notes ContactBabel. “Track them across channel, into the back office, financial and distribution systems, and back out towards the customer.”
These will likely run across departments and beyond the customer experience functions.
Yet, the omnichannel leader can pitch the benefits of having the contact center handle all these interactions, allowing other departments to double down on their core jobs.
Enghouse: Your Helping Hand Along the Way
Enghouse Interactive is the contact center vendor that meets businesses where they are in the development of their service operations and helps pave the path to omnichannel.
Whether that involves a full-scale CCaaS migration, switching to hybrid, or staying on-prem – Enghouse offers the tech and hand-holding to get them there at the speed that best suits them.
For some, that takes months; for others, years. Yet, all will have an omnichannel blueprint to deliver service experiences that meet the rising expectations of modern consumers.
To learn more about Enghouse Interactive’s customer-focused contact center technology portfolio, visit: enghouseinteractive.co.uk